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The Devlin Diary


The Devlin Diary Cover

ISBN13: 9781416527404
ISBN10: 1416527400
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the bestselling author of The Rossetti Letter comes a “thrilling” (Library Journal) novel of intrigue, passion, and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge, England.

London, 1672. A vicious killer stalks the court of Charles II, inscribing the victims’ bodies with mysterious markings.Are the murders the random acts of a madman?Or the violent effects of a deeply hidden conspiracy?

Cambridge, 2008. Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan’s dream come true—until one of her colleagues is found dead on the banks of the River Cam. The only key to the professor’s unsolved murder is the seventeenth-century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king’s mistress. Through the arcane collections of Cambridge’s most eminent libraries, Claire and fellow historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Hannah left behind, uncovering secrets of London’s dark past and Cambridge’s murky present and discovering that the events of three hundred years ago still have consequences today. . . .


From the acclaimed author of "The Rossetti Letter" comes a haunting novel of intrigue, romance, and murder that shifts tantalizingly between present-day Cambridge, England, and Restoration-era London.

About the Author

Christi Phillips lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her interest in European history has led her all over the Continent. The Rossetti Letter is her first novel.

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gaby317, June 1, 2010 (view all comments by gaby317)
I haven't read The Rossetti Letter, so I approached The Devlin Diary as a standalone novel. On its own, The Devlin Diary is a satisfying read.

The book opens in 1670 in the Palace of Saint-Cloud in Paris at the sickbed of Princess Henriette-Anne, the wife of the Duc d'Orlean, sister-in-law to King Louis XIV of France and sister to King Charles Stuart of England. Princess Henriette-Anne has suddenly fallen sick and is in great pain, it is clear that she is not expected to live much longer. Surrounded by courtiers from France and England, the Princess has little privacy. In her last moments, she calls on an obscure Englishman, Robert Osborne, and it is to him that she whispers her last instructions.

The book jumps to London in 1672 where we meet Mrs. Hannah Devlin, the widowed daughter of two doctors who practices medicine as a physician and a "physick." Under the laws of the time, the College of Physicians and medical societies exclude women; Mrs. Devlin cannot qualify to practice medicine and risks a criminal charge of practicing medicine without a license. But Mrs. Devlin's practice is limited to poor and common folk with whom she has established a reputation for competence and skill, and she is safe as long as she remains unnoticed. It should be noted that Mrs. Devlin's medical training and skill is impeccable - she's learned from her parents who were both respected doctors. Her father had been physician to the King until a political disagreement caused him to be exiled from Court. Her mother had trained and practiced medicine in France, but upon her marriage was limited to acting as a "physick" and assisting her husband in his medical practice.

Mrs. Devlin is grabbed off the streets and brought to the King's residence at Whitehall to treat a favorite's suspicious illness. The diagnosis and treatment are within Hannah Devlin's competence, but the politics and intrigue at court may be her downfall. Hannah Devlin parries with Lord Arlington, a powerful man whose stormy relationship with her father threatens Hannah's own safety. Through her work at court, Mrs. Devlin befriends Dr. Edward Strathern who is newly appointed to run the anatomy theater at the College of Physicians. When members of court are murdered in a grisly and disturbing manner, Mrs. Devlin and Dr. Strathern work together to make sense of the killer's clues and to hunt down the murderer before he can kill again.

The Devlin Diary alternates between the story of Mrs. Devlin in the 1680s and Dr. Claire Donovan at Trinity College, Cambridge in 2008. Soon after solving the mystery behind The Rossetti Letter, Claire Donovan has been offered a prestigious fellowship at Cambridge University. While exploring an arcane collection in one of Cambridge's most eminent libraries, Claire Donovan comes across a slim volume written in code in the 1600s. As Claire deciphers the text, she realizes that she's found an account of unsolved murders during the time of King Charles Stuart. When a fellow historian is murdered, Claire Donovan and Andrew Kent search for links between the recent murder and the mysterious journal.

Christi Phillips combines historical fiction with a complex and well crafted mystery. If you're fond of unusual mysteries and historical fiction and looking for an engrossing, satisfying read, check out The Devlin Diary. I enjoyed it so much that I've just ordered the earlier novel, The Rossetti Letter.

ISBN-10: 1416527397 - Trade Paperback
Publisher: Pocket (May 12, 2009), 448 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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Cinnamon, May 27, 2010 (view all comments by Cinnamon)
Imagine a time where women have finally gained some freedoms - some, not all. Many restrictions have been lifted from them except the ability to practice medicine. Now picture yourself as an intelligent woman, versed in medicine, desperate to treat the poor who pass you every day in various stages of sickness and there isn't a single thing you can do about it. This is the situation Hannah Devlin faces. Of course, she practices her medicine earlier although the discovery of which can have criminal consequences for Hannah. Drawn into a world of intrigue and conspiracy, Hannah struggles to survive and uncover the mystery behind a series of grisly murders.

Fastforward to present(ish) day. Claire Donovan is a history teacher at Trinity College. When a fellow professor ends up dead, it is Hannah Devlin's diary that may hold the key to his death. Could the darkness of the past jump forward into the present?

Christi Phillips writes an interesting story jam packed with intrigue. In THE DEVLIN DIARY, secrets abound and it's anybody's guess how the various investigations will turn out. The story is written using parallel story lines; the reader is first introduced to Hannah and her life before Claire enters the story. Although I'm not a huge fan of parallel shorelines, one good thing about this is that the author was able to use this to her advantage to keep us totally hooked. Just as we'd get to a point with Hannah where she made some awesome discovery, we'd switch over to Claire. The same held true the other way. Just as the lightbulb was about to go on above Claire's head, we'd be tugged back to Hannah's time. This aspect was masterfully done to the point where I continued reading the story despite the parallel nature of it.

The couple points that I couldn't really get into were Claire's relationship with Andrew and Claire herself. Both seemed like they were added to the story to round it out, although the relationship just felt kind of so-so and Claire wasn't nearly as interesting as Hannah. Perhaps it's the difference in how interesting the two time periods were, I'm unsure. If the book were solely about Hannah I think I would have become much more engrossed in it.

Overall THE DEVLIN DIARY was a great read. Fan of historical thrillers will find something to love here. Although this does come after The Rossetti Letter, I didn't really feel like I was missing much by not having read that book. I think THE DEVLIN DIARY does a fine job of standing on its own.
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Product Details

Phillips, Christi
Gallery Press
General Fiction
Historical - General
Mystery & Detective - General
Mystery fiction
Historical fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.25 x 5.31 in 13.09 oz

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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The Devlin Diary Used Trade Paper
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Product details 464 pages Gallery Press - English 9781416527404 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , From the acclaimed author of "The Rossetti Letter" comes a haunting novel of intrigue, romance, and murder that shifts tantalizingly between present-day Cambridge, England, and Restoration-era London.
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